Micro-CT Applications for Covid-19 Research

Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

Virologists and Lung Disease Specialists Commission Bruker´s Micro-CT for some of the World’s First in vivo COVID-19 Imaging Experiments

Reprinted from the Lab Bulletin: Jul 27, 2020  |  author/source: Bruker Corporation

Bruker’s BioSpin PreClinical Imaging Division reports the use of the Bruker SkyScan 1278 in vivo micro-CT system at the KU Leuven, Belgium, to support COVID-19-focused research. This research will leverage the university’s expertise in preclinical testing to study the efficacy of vaccine and drug candidates in COVID-19 infection models. These will be some of the first in vivo imaging experiments on COVID-19 models using mice and hamsters. It will also allow researchers to better understand how the SARS-CoV-2 virus leads to lung damage.

As one of the trustworthy methods in diagnosing lung pathology in a clinical setting, computed tomography (CT) is found to be ideally suited for diagnosing COVID-19 virus-induced lung infections. This technique is now being translated to laboratory animals for preclinical research towards finding an efficient vaccine and antiviral drugs.

Significant groundwork on diseased lung imaging has been made by the KU Leuven team led by Professor Vande Velde using the SkyScan 1278 at MoSAIC, which now collaborates with the laboratory of Virology of Prof. Johan Neyts from the Rega Institute and the Laboratory of Clinical and Epidemiological Virology, led by Professor Marc Van Ranst, for COVID-19 research.

The REGA Institute is dedicating its Biosafety Level 3 (BSL3) laboratory to COVID-19 research, recently installing KU Leuven’s second SkyScan 1278 instrument. Professor Johan Neyts, virologist commented: “We are developing a vaccine for the prevention and drugs for the treatment of COVID-19 infections. The new micro-CT scanner will help us identify which of these candidates could make it through to clinical trials.”

Professor Greetje Vande Velde, Principal Investigator at the core facility Molecular Small Animal Imaging Center (MoSAIC) and at the KU Leuven Faculty of Medicine, explained: “We have implemented micro-CT protocols for various lung disease models such as fungal infections or influenza virus infection. [1]. It has been possible to translate these into COVID animal models, to apply non-destructive in vivo imaging to examine SARS-CoV-2-based lung infections and potential treatments. The low radiation dose possible with the SkyScan 1278 is a really important development – we can image the same animal repeatedly, obtaining high quality 3D images over long time periods without harming the animal.”

Bruker offers the world’s fastest, low-dose, high-throughput micro-CT, the SkyScan 1278, which enables non-invasive, longitudinal imaging studies to obtain quantitative data on lung disease processes and treatment responses. The new micro-CT spatial beam shaper reduces the absorbed dose by up to five times while maintaining high quality image output.

The KU Leuven MoSAIC houses state-of-the-art in vivo imaging infrastructure and expertise for the non-invasive and longitudinal assessment of preclinical disease and therapy models in a biosafety level 2 (BSL2) environment. MoSAIC is well-equipped with Bruker imaging systems, including a 9.4T MRI system, a 7T PET/MRI scanner, a SkyScan 1076 micro-CT and a SkyScan 1278 micro-CT.

Prof. Vande Velde and Prof. Neyts work together in a translational approach, combining expertise in micro-CT imaging technology and virology, respectively, to tackle the modern threat of COVID-19.

For more information on the SkyScan 1278 micro-CT scanner, please visit https://www.microphotonics.com/products/skyscan-1278/.

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Related Articles: Coronavirus Information and Resources

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